In the 1960s, Gary Indiana was hailed as the epicenter of America’s steel industry. The city was founded on the said principle. Its history is a fascinating story of a country rising, but many claim the city is becoming a former shell of itself.
The steel Vatican City of America, Gary Indiana was the place to look to when it came to the steel industry. The Industrialization Age of America started to begin in the 1860s by high demand for steel.
Construction of highways, automobile manufacturing and creation of jobs boosted the industrial awakening of the United States, and to keep pace with such demand, many factories were built on lake banks.
Gary, Indiana provided an ideal location where mills and factories could tap into the raw materials deposits such as iron ores for their manufacturing. The city was founded on the south shore of the famous Lake Michigan.
Gary, Indiana is just 30 miles away from Chicago.
Who Founded Gary, Indiana?
The manufacturing giant U. S. Steel Corporation decided to lay foundations of the city on the banks of Lake Michigan. Chairman of the company Elbert H. Gary played a key vital role in the overall shaping of the land.
Where did Gary, Indiana get its name from?
Because of his central role in the industrial age and laying out the whole location, the city was named after him: Gary.
U. S. Steel Corporation had been already looking for a reasonable site in the Midwestern for a production center. Upon inception, it was anticipated that a large crowd of talent would come.
Acting upon this anticipation, Gary Land Company (subsidiary of U. S. Steel) built a variety of housing complexes and apartments under a structured city plan. This city was referred to as “Magic CIty” and “City of the Century”.
Profile of Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana has been a subject of racial segregation since its start. It is said that more than 80 percent of the population is black.
The African American population had to work hard to uphold their standard of living as opposed to many other countries.
The whites had special privilege whereas the blacks didn’t have much choice. Other places wouldn’t allow them to move, or they would be too expensive for them to move in.
No jobs or opportunities would be provided to them versus the whites, and lending would be difficult.
Many European immigrants who came into the city would leave in a phenomenon called “white flight”. They would flee as a result of increasing African Americans.
Statistics of Gary, Indiana
Gary’s population was 80,294 at the census carried out in 2010. This made Gary the ninth-largest city in Indiana, according to its website.
Also, there were 31,380 households which had 19,691 families in the city. Density of the population was 1,610.1 per square mile.
39,531 house units occupied 792.7 per square mile in terms of their density.
Racial profiling of the city had 64.8% African American, 10.7% white, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 1.8% other races and 2.1% from two or more races.
Hispanic of Latino’s were 5.1% of any race and Non-Hispanic whites were 8.9%. This number was 39.1% in 1970.
Under 18 children were 33.5% and 25.2% couples were married who were living together. 30.9% households had a female holder with no husband present and 6.7% had a male with no female present.
37.2% were categorized as non-families and 32.8% were individuals and 11.9% were people living alone who were senior (sixty-five years of age or above).
The average size of a family was 3.23.
Median age in the city was 36.7 years and 8.6% were in the ages of 18 and 24.
There were 46% male and 54% female in the city as well.
What Happened in Gary, Indiana?
The city prospered under its guise partial plan. The industrial suburb which was under Chicago’s economic influence was also partially left for land speculators.
In the 70s, Gary, Indiana had around 175,415 residents and 32,000 steelworkers. These people prospered and brought in America’s industrial age but coming time would also mark the collapse of American steel and Gary, Indiana.
Globalization – competition from steel manufacturers around the world played a major factor that contributed to the fall of the city.
Also technological advancements which happened in the world faster than Gary acted as icing on the cake.
Layoffs which rocked the town
Although there were some layoffs expected, it was nothing expected. No one foresaw that in 1971, the first layoff round would result in tens of thousands of plant workers being laid off.
It was widely covered by 1972 that Gary looked like “an ash heap” which portrayed the image of a barren town. Manufacturers and factory owners continued laying off workers as a result of continuous lack of demand for American steel.
The 1980s saw Indiana making only about a quarter of all production of steel in the U. S. Workers in Gary would be 7,000 in 2005 (from 32,000 in 1970). This would also force people to move from the city to seek work elsewhere.
Economic activities ceased and the “Magic City” would then turn into the “Murder Capital” of America. The population eroded to less than 100,000 from 175,415. It is estimated that a quarter of Gary’s buildings are vacant or abandoned as a result of people moving out.
The Road Ahead for Gary
There have been many initiatives in the city of Gary launched by the government in the last decades. Many have been met with positive reviews.
There has been a minor baseball stadium and has hosted the Miss USA pageant for multiple years. Empty buildings are being revisioned for new developments. The city has also witnessed positive growth in festivals and creative activities.
There have been historic tours that cater to ruins and 20th-century architecture. These preservation tours highlight the 20th-century buildings which have also received much praise.
The town has also pitched itself to be Amazon’s new headquarters. If such a step is taken, many new jobs would be created which would be of great help to society.
Gary, Indiana is slowly but steadily rising from the ashes of its collapse. There needs to be considerable time given to it to reawaken, but the reputation of a ghost town and other negative titles will need to be shaken off hard before it can bounce back with a punch.